Features and functionalities naturally play a significant part in crafting viewers' seamless and engaging OTT user experience.
In order to build an impactful OTT streaming service, companies need to rely on a complex ecosystem of multiple technologies and vendors. Some solution providers are able to deliver full end-to-end offerings, but more often than not, multiple providers are needed - and choosing the right set of partners can be daunting.
The choice to work with a particular platform provider is often down to the set of features that they offer. But how can companies be sure that they are focusing on the right features in the first place?
The features you need will very much relate to end user expectations. Therefore, the first thing to do is to run through the exercise of visualizing your service through the eyes of your audience. Ensuring an optimal user experience is about more than just its current environment. The more you know about how you want your service to evolve, the easier it will be to avoid making mistakes when setting out on your OTT journey.
Features and functionalities naturally play a significant part in crafting viewers' seamless and engaging experience. Below are some different areas to consider:
It goes without saying that content is a significant (if not the primary) driver of users’ experience with a service. However, an equally important factor is how it is packaged and presented. The first question is what type of content you will be offering our audience. On-demand video only? Or perhaps a multi-channel live linear TV service with a need for start-over and catch-up features?
Once you clearly understand the content you want to offer, you will need to determine a way to classify or group it so that it becomes easily accessible for users. Perhaps you will design a bespoke hierarchy of tags and categories that can be used as a templated set-up across the service? Or do you need to classify episodic content to be represented in terms of series, seasons, and episodes?
It is also important to ensure you design the artwork in the service to align with text overlays and button placements in the various applications. This makes a world of difference in the service and the way users’ perception.
The next question to ask yourself is how this all relates to your metadata schema. If your service is (or will be) available in many parts of the world, you will have to have support for displaying metadata and texts in any language relevant to that setup.
Content and its presentation make up the bulk of a seamless user experience. However, how audiences interact with your service goes way beyond the videos it features. A good user experience starts with ensuring a smooth sign-up and account management process. A customer may be very interested in your content catalogue but if the journey to getting there is long and bumpy, many will likely lose their patience.
Will your users need to log in and register their credentials or credit card details before watching or even browsing the content? There are different features available to support a smooth sign-up process but the ones you choose will depend on what fits best with your audience’s optimal user experience.
Once a customer has signed up, the next step is to ensure an easy way for him or her to have a flawless continued experience. This includes features like allowing the user to pick up where they left off with continue watching, binge watching, favorites, and watch history. Should a user be able to change site language, store favourites and update their preferred payment method? Or, in the light of privacy and CCPA and GDPR requirements, you need to comply with local regulations of each jurisdiction and they should be free to request deletion of all the information held.
Another important consideration is how the user experience will be affected in a multi-device environment. This naturally relates to UX design and making sure that it is optimized for delivery on different platforms, but it will also include features that support device management and restrictions.
Will users only be able to access the service from particular locations or will they be limited to a certain number of concurrent streams? For some services, it will be important to offer users the ability to download videos to be consumed at a later stage, without concerns of connectivity. For others, it will be central to offer functionalities enabling users to manage their privacy restrictions and account settings.
The more feature-rich a service is, the more complex it will be to plan, design and deliver. It can therefore be smart to run through the exercise of prioritizing your features into must-haves, should-haves and could-haves.
It may well be that everything is a must. In this case, you will likely need to look for service providers who can meet all of your needs at the same time. If you, however, end up with a combination of the three priorities, you might want to look at launching with the musts and then follow up with subsequent deliveries of less urgent features to enhance the service gradually.
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